As we celebrate sleep this month, it is important to promote the importance of sleep as a way to increase mental health and overall well-being – especially this pandemic year.
What Are the Benefits of Good Sleep? There’s not a single aspect of life that sleep doesn’t make better…or that lack of sleep doesn’t make worse. Sleep replenishes us— restoring alertness and energy—and allows us to be more focused and productive. Sleep strengthens infection-fighting cells, calms inflammation, and boosts the body’s immunity.
While we snooze, our brains scan and file the key events of our day and to dream up new ideas. No wonder we say, “Let’s sleep on it!”—this intense brain activity during sleep that lets trivial memories fade away and new solutions bubble up and take root.
Sleep may improve another between-the-sheets activity, too…studies dating back to the 1950s have shown a strong link between improved sleep and stronger sexual desire. More recent research found that when a person adds a full hour of sleep to their night, they have a 14% better chance of having sex with their partner the next day! At the same time, too few Zzz’s may squash your interest in sex. In addition to being associated with other libido-killers, like anxiety and depression, sleep deprivation has been linked to sexual dysfunction in older adults.
What Are Some Risks of Not Sleeping Enough? Exhaustion is such a stressful experience that the elite Navy SEALs are put through prolonged sleep deprivation to train them to endure torture! Night after night of poor sleep builds up a mounting “sleep debt” in the body and brain that eventually must be paid, either with some solid catch-up sleep—or with our health. Sleep deprivation also runs up a hefty tab in real dollars and cents—it costs the economy over $63 billion annually, according to one estimate.
Being short on shuteye makes us more prone to irritability, illness, inflammation, and infection. From the common cold, to obesity to cardiac arrest, every part of the body suffers during sleep deprivation.
Chronic sleep deprivation makes us moody, whiny, demanding and depressed. It causes personal chaos, from accidents to wrecked relationships.
Even one night of poor sleep can be dangerous. Research shows that sleep deprivation has the same effect…as being drunk! It quickly leads to poor judgment, slow reaction time, and impaired memory. No wonder, drowsiness is associated with 7% percent of car crashes and 16% of fatal car accidents in the US.